Previews

Lock and Load for SOCOM

The tactical shooter is coming to PSP but its control method may need some extra exercise

Lock and Load for <i>SOCOM</i>

Of all the types of games coming to PSP, perhaps the first person shooter is the most controversial. Not because of the violent nature of the games - if it moves, shoot it - but instead the argument concerns the control method. With the PC using keyboard and mouse and consoles adopting a two joystick approach; one for movement of the character and one for the movement of your gun, the problem with PSP is you only have use of one stick and four buttons, which makes it really hard to move and aim smoothly.

It’s a particularly big issue for Sony’s squad-based shooter SOCOM because, on console at least, it’s a tight tactical game where you sneak around, getting your guys in the right position and then unleashing your firepower at the critical moment. For the PSP version of the game however, this sort of gameplay has been cut down. For one thing, you have much less control over your squad-mates, who just follow you around rather than being ordered to do their own thing. You also have to be much more careful when you’re moving around because you can’t always point your weapons as quickly as you would like at the enemy, although there is a lock-on mode for close combat when you use the right shoulder button.

The plot of the game - at least the level available to play at E3 - was the usual deal about rescuing hostages from terrorists, with the action occurring in a big industrial area that had lots of hiding places for the bad guys. In such an environment, one good tactic was to move slowly and get out the sniper rifle regularly to check for bad guys and take them out at a distance.

Of course, with plenty of time for the game is released - probably not until 2006 in Europe - it may be that Zipper Interactive, the company making the game, will be able to get around these problems. We certainly hope so because SOCOM is one of the most successful shooters on PlayStation2 and it would be great to get a proper version for PSP as well.